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Author Topic: SMI Brake Assist  (Read 1272 times)
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« on: October 11, 2013, 06:46:20 pm »

I mentioned on our vvvibration noise post that our next repair stop was for the SMI Brake Assist we had installed in our toad. It was apparently just a bad fuse installed up front then user error or lack of experience. Once a good fuse was in there and we adjusted the sensitivity knob, we were good to go. She seems to be operating as she should and is hopefully taking a load off the coach brakes on these hills.

A few notes for other purchasers:
- the SMI will depress your brakes on and off and on and off when the turn signal lights go on and off IF the knob is set too low. We now keep the car door open when testing lights to listen for the brake system. The slot is vertical so if the knob is loose, it will drop down to a more sensitive setting. Sometimes too sensitive as was our case. We now know how to watch for that.
- if parking on a hill, the SMI will continue to depress your brake pedal until the Phoenix brake lights go out, which is several seconds after you turn her off. THEN it shuts off allowing the toad to slam down onto the tow bars. We have been trained to run back to the toad and get the emergency brake on and put it in gear. We then have to remember to reverse the process before rolling out. Just start the Phoenix first to engage the SMI to avoid the slam. Obviously this is easier with a copilot.
- other than these quirks, it is a pretty simple system. We turn it on and off with the flip of a switch.
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« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2013, 08:03:44 am »

We installed the SMI on our Fit two years ago, and I think your comment about it being very easy is the perfect summary. ONce you disconnect or even while you are disconnecting you can get in the Toad and move it without a need to move anything. Our unit sits under the front of the hood and to the right of the latch.

The company installing the unit, glad we had them buy it as well as install, did have a bad unit that was rapidly replaced with an overnight shipment of a new unit.

Once of twice the car battery was to low to start the car when we got to where we were, so if we generally put a booster charger each evening, unless we drive it a hour or so.

It was pricy, including the indicator light in the cabin, at about $1,200. The only drawback is it cannot be transferred to another toad.

Took a while to get it adjusted to where we could just feel it kicking in when we pressed the brake. However, ours does not come on (you can hear the pump) when our turn signals comes on. Maybe there is a wiring issue on your unit.

Greg and Kathy Matthews
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« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2013, 10:43:58 am »

It was pricy, including the indicator light in the cabin, at about $1,200. The only drawback is it cannot be transferred to another toad.

Took a while to get it adjusted to where we could just feel it kicking in when we pressed the brake. However, ours does not come on (you can hear the pump) when our turn signals comes on. Maybe there is a wiring issue on your unit.

Greg and Kathy Matthews

I have two toads and that is one reason I went with RVibrake. Very simple to switch between them or to move it to a new vehicle. The setup is pretty simple and the brake vacuum is released automatically. I understand that their newer unit has a tire pressure sensor built-in which could be handy.
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« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2013, 07:37:58 pm »

If the brake is coming on with the turn signals there is feedback into the brake light circuit and can be easily remedied with diodes in the turn signal circuits.
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« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2013, 10:09:17 am »

If the brake is coming on with the turn signals there is feedback into the brake light circuit and can be easily remedied with diodes in the turn signal circuits.

You are absolutely right about the diodes. They had to put bigger ones in mine for the same reason. Mine has worked perfectly.

Alan
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« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2013, 04:54:02 pm »

About suppliment brakes in-general.  I've learned a lesson with our Unified that if the tow vehicle's braking system is set more sensitive so that it will help slow down the motor home, the tow vehicle wheels could be locking up and skidding.  Our tow vehicle tires rumble from all the skidding going on during a test drive from home to work and back.  Cry
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« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2013, 05:22:03 pm »

Ron, are you saying you broke your wife's car?
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« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2013, 11:49:10 pm »

Ron, are you saying you broke your wife's car?
No her Jeep Liberty is not broken.  Just that the tires now rumble loudly.  I don't have the money to put into new tires right now so she drives with the rumbling noise.  Fortunately she travels most often around town a few miles from home.

I am thinking of buying 4 good used alloy wheels off Craigslist and put new smooth thread quiet street tires on for around town.  I'd retain these rumbly old tires for towing on trips and for winters given they have a good aggressive thread pattern for off-road and snow.
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« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2014, 10:44:18 pm »

We are getting ready to have our Ford Edge married up to our PC.  Definitely settled on Blue Ox baseplate and tow bar.  Originally planned to install a US Gear Unified braking system, but our local RV specialist who has installed many of the US Gear systems recommended the SMI Stay-In-Play Duo instead.  His comment was that he has seen too many of the US Gear controllers come back for repair/replacement.  Fairly similar systems, but I don't yet know enough about the SMI product.  Anyone have this particular product?  I've looked for info but still can't tell how it connects to the brake (cable from under the seat like in the Unified?) Does it have a trickle charge line like the Unified, or an included breakaway like the Unified?

  - Mike
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« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2014, 06:59:45 am »

We have the SMI Duo on our Subaru Forester. After a few hiccups after install (bad fuse and user error on sensitivity setting), weve been very happy with it. NOTE: We have not used it in the Rockies so do not have experience with it on miles and miles of steep roads. We did run through the Appalachians and had a few decent downgrades where it kicked in and worked beautifully. We are in the coach full time and move frequently so we wanted simple and idiot proof with no extra parts to move or store and we got it.

As for the unit, it does have the break-away switch and cable. The components we can see are a control box under the hood (mounted wherever your installer can fit it for your model toad), wiring harness with fuse, cable that passes through the fire wall to your brake pedal, very small canister that attaches to the top of your brake pedal, box under the dash against the left wall of the foot well (on/off switch and sensitivity knob) and, for us, a little LED strip with wiring that we pull out and attach to the back of the toads rear view mirror (it comes with stick on Velcro strip but that fell off within hours in the summer heat we now use a hair band). There is also the break-away switch mounted under the front bumper and the coiled cable with little carabiners to attach it when you hook up.

The ready to tow set up for the SMI is: outside: clip on the break-away cable when you are clipping on your tow safety cables; inside: pull the cabin notification light strip out and stick it on the rear view mirror, flip the on/off switch in the foot well - done.

To test the system I step on the toads brake and hold my hand behind the LED strip to make sure I see a red glow and we keep the driver door open while testing lights so we can hear the unit to make sure it isnt engaging when any of the lights go on. It should not engage on a flat surface when you brake.

If you opt for the in-coach notification lights (we should have), you can skip the LED steps. We can usually see the LEDs in our back up camera while driving, however, sunlight reflecting on the toads window can make it so you cant tell if the LEDs are on. I personally do not like having to stare into the monitor watching for the lights when I want to check if the system engaged. Its super easy to see at night but we dont drive much at night. We will eventually have them add the in coach light.

One more item ask in advance if the system works with your toads standard lights. For whatever reason, it does not work with our Subaru. The installer put an LED inside each of our taillight assemblies and that LED is what lights up for turns and braking when under tow. I dont know if it is due to wiring or the ignition switch position or something else but the SMI couldnt be used to control the existing brake lights and turn signals. Manufacturer website has pic of the tiny canister that attaches to your brake pedal http://www.smibrake.com/stay-in-play-duo.html  

I do not know the answer on the trickle charge.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2014, 07:14:49 am by 2 Frazzled » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2014, 09:57:09 am »

Thanks, John/Holly!  Sounds like a good product.  Our guy did mention that the toad-mounted led might be hard to see and suggested the coach light up front.  We had heard a lot about possible issues in certain vehicles when tying into the brake/turn signal circuits, regardless of the tow package or braking system, so we are going to have the brake/turn signal kit installed in the toad.

It will be interesting to see how it goes towing a pretty hefty vehicle (2103 Ford Edge Ltd AWD)

- Mike
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« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2014, 11:45:07 pm »

I have the SMI on my Honda Fit.  It did require a few minor adjustments at first but works like a charm now. I had problems with the battery in the Fit discharging while being towed.  I had a Toad Charger installed and since then no problems.  I was told that this system could be taken out and installed in another vehicle.
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